Activism, Featured, Parenting

10 habits that infringe on Rights of Children (and how to change them)

14 July, 2015

Do you dream of a fairer world, a cherished earth, a more peaceful community? And do you interact with children? As a parent or teacher or aunty or kind member of the public?

Nuzzle in, you. This post has your very name on it.

A few years ago, during my Masters at LSE, I spent three months studying the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child under the tireless child rights advocate, Peter Townsend. The course was heavy but inspiring and I vowed to work on child rights for the rest of my life.

I went on to work for Oxfam as a campaigner, and imagined I would end up working on the rights of children through social policy.

And it would be easy to see me now, sitting in my pyjamas drinking tea, and wonder what happened to that vow.

But in actual fact,when it comes to human rights and social change, I feel as powerful in my role as a parent as I did as a campaigner.

When we studied the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) we covered poverty, child labour, hunger, trafficking, homelessness, but we didn’t ever look at the home and family life.

I’ve come to believe that the UNCRC can inspire us to observe children’s rights as parents and teachers and neighbours, and that this in turn this will lead to societal change that makes all those huge, global issues, much less likely to occur.  And, if we can raise a generation who have had their rights observed, the impact on global social justice will be boundless. 

Unicef say “The Convention changed the way children are viewed and treated – i.e., as human beings with a distinct set of rights instead of as passive objects of care and charity.”

Unicef is slightly optimistic when it uses past tense here  – I think we are in the process of changing our view on children, but things haven’t quite got there yet. This post is going to take 10 everyday, simple habits that impede children’s rights, and consider a way to change them.

I did begin by going through the Convention, article by article, and pulling out the relevant bits – freedom to express views (article 12) and to impart information and ideas (article 13) and the right to dignity (article 23) but it got almost as heavy as my Masters, so I stopped that.

Instead, the guiding principles of the Convention, cover most bases:

All rights apply to all children without exception.

  • It is the State’s obligation to protect children from any form of discrimination and to take positive action to promote their rights.

  • All actions concerning the child shall take full account of his or her best interests. The State shall provide the child with adequate care when parents, or others charged with that responsibility, fail to do so.

  • Every child has the inherent right to life, and the State has an obligation to ensure the child’s survival and development.

  •  The child has the right to express his or her opinion freely and to have that opinion taken into account in any matter or procedure affecting the child.

And actually, these guiding principles can be distilled even further, I reckon. I think most adults have a good sense of what their rights are, and when their rights are being abused or repressed. This means that it might be helpful to think about upholding child rights simply by asking the question “how would I hope to be treated in this situation?” 

Here are ten things lovers of human rights and warriors of social justice do regularly to impede the rights of children.  We can break habits, and form new ones, humans are amazing like that. Let’s do this….Habits that impede rights of child in the home (and how to change them)

1 – Taking things off children. We do it in the name of safety sometimes; snatch scissors from a toddler or a phone from a baby. Sometimes we just do it absentmindedly- we want something they have, so we just take it. This act is discriminatory – excluding children from using something that they would like to.

What to do instead: Even with the very smallest child we can ask for something back, and explain why we would like it. If we are patient, and allow them to fully process the request (for young children this can take longer than you think!) with our hand out, it is highly likely that they will return it. We can explain things to children just as we do other adults.

We can also question our motivation for taking it – is it really unsafe for a toddler to use sharp things? I don’t believe so. At all. Juno has been picking up knives with our supervision since she could first handle any items. She has learnt to use sharp things very carefully as a result. Being committed to child rights means questioning a lot of assumptions we have about our children’s abilities!

2 – Talking about children in front of them. “Ah, yeah Ramona, woke up so early this morning!” – it is such a seemingly harmless conversation to have, sharing stories about our children while they are there. But would we EVER do this to an adult? Can you even imagine it? Being in a room with a friend, discussing the toilet habits / sleeping problems/ hilarious anecdote about another friend sitting next to you? It doesn’t protect dignity and privacy and you can stop it!

What to do instead: Weigh up the reasons for sharing that anecdote. If you need advice or support, consider sharing it in private, away from your children. But you can also ask your child, if they are there, if they mind you sharing a story. Or, you can include your child in it “Oh, Ramona, you woke up early this morning didn’t you – were you super keen to get up?” – involve them in the conversation as we would an adult.  This goes even for the tiniest baby. Defend your newborns dignity and it will be a parental habit formed for their whole life.

3 – Laughing at children.  Children can be hilarious, sometimes in a purposeful way – laugh right along to their jokes. But they are also funny sometimes in an intriguing, surprising way – and I’d you to consider not laughing at children. Sometimes, adults  find it hard not to smirk, to catch each others eyes and laugh at our children as they go about their lives. Just yesterday Ramona said “Don’t laugh at me, mum!” when I had giggled at something in a kind hearted way. It pulled me up short – even our loving chuckles as they fumble a word infringe on their personhood. I love laughter and joyfulness – it has to be up to you to discern whether your laughter fits with the idea of your child as a rights bearer.

What to do instead: Consider things from their point of view . It is tough not being able to reach things you need, learning all the unwritten rules of society, figuring out who you are. The very last thing they need is “kind hearted” adults giggling along. Dwell on this and it should help you hold it together when you want to snort-in-love.

4 – Picking babies up We get rights all mixed up on this one – we think it is our right to pick up our baby. Well, erm, your baby isn’t really, exactly, yours, you see. You don’t own her. She is not a possession. She is a person. With her own body.

Or we think we are helping when we pick up another child when they’ve fallen or  a baby when they are crying. Would you like a stranger to come up to you and pick you up? Nope. It’s the same. It is.

What to do instead: The alternative isn’t not picking babies up. Babies love to be in arms, it is one of the biggest ways babies and adults connect. PICK UP BABIES! But, do what you would like to be done to you: ASK THEM! Yep, even a newborn. If babies are spoken to this way they soon respond. The “I’m going to pick you up now” spoken to a baby soon becomes “Can I give you a cuddle?” to a young child. This practice of consent from birth could change the world. 

5 – Wiping children’s noses Sometimes we do things to kids in the name of health and hygiene. Sweeping in to wipe their nose for example – I used to pride myself on a swipe that came from behind Ramona’s head, cleared all snot that wouldn’t interfere with her play time.  Yep: stepping all over her right to influence decisions that affect her.

What to do instead: Say “I see you have a wet nose, can I wipe it for you, or would you like to wipe it yourself? and then wait.  It was Pennie Brownlee that opened my eyes to the possibility that most children, if given the option to not have a huge slimeball of snot dripping into their mouth would take it! Same goes with dirty nappies- in a respectful relationship, giving the child the option to come and get their nose wiped or their nappy changed, and given time to process it, is likely to result in them coming over for a wipe/ change themselves.

6 – Deciding things without their input “Right! We are off! Let’s go, COME ON!”  The amount of times I have seen parents suddenly decide it is time to leave the park and expect their children with no warning to come right along happily! We plan our days, our holidays, our visits, our lunches, our leaving times, every thing with very little input from our children because we think we know best. And it is a complete flouting of their human right to have a say in things that impact them.

What to do instead: Give them an opportunity to influence plans. This grows with the child; they are VERY good at letting people know when they are ready to have a say! It might start with a two year old choosing what friends to have a playdate with, and then can grow into a four year old helping the family decide where to go on holiday. Contrary to what people may think, having children as fully fledged decision makers is not a burden – it is a great joy, and it leads to a far, far more harmonious family life. 

7 – Photographing (and sharing) them without permission This one that really challenges me, and I have been on quite a journey with it. (In fact, you can see that my Instagram pictures are far less frequent as I try and do this 100% consensually.  When we are snap happy and post these photos publically we are in danger of disregarding children’s right to privacy. And don’t get me started on when we use those photos to publically shame our children… *ragey face*

What to do instead I do have a couple of friends who have sworn never to post anything about their children online ever…. I, erm, am clearly not there! I simply ask their permission to take a photo, and then ask them if I can share it online.Habits that impede rights of child in the home (and how to change them)

8 – Putting children in Time Out Yeah baby I’m calling it! Time Out is a Human Right’s Abuse! Putting a child on a step and not letting them move does not allow our children to experience the right to be a full participant of the community, it erodes their dignity and suppresses their right to have a say in things that are important to them. It just shuts things down according to an adult’s, often quite arbitrary, rules.

What to do instead  In our family, we generally feel that if a hiccup has occurred, it is because the child needs MORE connection, not less. Not to be excluded from our love, but to be encompassed in it.  So we go for something that is highly connecting. Some families however, might have found Time Out to be helpful in cultivating a thinking space.  If you like rules and things, you could consider coming up with rules that EVERYONE agrees with, and then coming up with the matching consequence. A family guide book by consensus – whole schools are run on this principle. (Personally, we go for less rules, more connection.)

9 – Telling them to stop crying It is hard to hear our children crying, either because we are sad for them, or triggered by them, or because we think its not worthy of tears. We “Shush” our babies and say “Don’t be silly, cheer up” to our kids. It’s probably not surprising to hear but: every child has the right to cry, to feel things, and to express their feelings as they wish. (Even if it was because their nutella wrap got torn in two.)

What to do instead: The HuffPost recently published a great article about how accepting feelings is the last frontier in parenting. But it doesn’t have to be a huge one to change. Firstly, if we are being triggered, we need to deal with that.  And then we need to cultivate the practice of validation. “I hear you.” “You are upset”. “You wanted that.”  “It sounds like you are feeling sad.” These words of validation, of letting your child express themselves, becomes second nature when faced with tears.

10 – Telling them what to wear. I would LOVE to have kids that wear cool retro style, ironically sloganned tee shirts with perfect pineaple print shorts. Instead, Ramona and Juno tend to opt for either fourth hand pilled fleecey onesies, bright pink tutus or nothing at all. But, it is more important to me that they know they are in charge of their clothes and their body and things that effect them. Their bodies, their choice, right?

What to do instead: Create more time in the mornings for them to choose their own clothes – with support if needed, particularly at the start. And mostly stop having an opinion on what you think they should wear. It is minutiae that doesn’t impact you in the least (as far as I can see) but very much impacts a child’s perception of himself in the world.

Supporting child rights doesn’t have to mean throwing things we know to be good out the window- but we do need to make the rights of children the framework for which we hang our family life on. 

I think there are quite a lot more – for example, not forcing them to eat certain things, not forcing them to kiss or cuddle. But I feel like this list of ten is a good starting point – possibly the easiest to change. Do you have any that you are working on at the moment?

And also, before I sign off, I want to disclose fully that I am not able to say “I am a true upholder of child rights!” – some days I am great at it, and other times my only aim is to try and stay sane.  But I have absolutely seen my own child rights record improve by being committed to working on these everyday interactions between myself and the children in my life.

I want to live in a world where everyone can experience human rights – and I believe this world is being built not only in UN offices but also within kitchens, playgrounds, schools. Places where children play, where they have their rights observed. Where adults change ingrained habits and children take their place as fully human, with all the rights attached.

A fairer world begins in the home! 

This is part of my slow burning Parenting for Social Justice series. Read all about Non Violent Communication for Parents here

If you found this post helpful, please consider supporting my work on Patreon. Patrons get access to all sorts of extra stuff for as little as $1 a month.lulastic patreon

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  • becca 14 July, 2015 at 7:32 pm

    I just realised I am quite bad at talking about my son’s eating habits with anyone and every one…no wonder we are having control issues over it. Step back required I think. xx

    • Lucy 15 July, 2015 at 12:42 am

      Do it – it gets easier once you become aware of it! xx

      • Jess 21 September, 2016 at 1:36 am

        Hi Lucy,
        Just wanted to tell you I am absolutely loving your blog! I have just stumbled across it after seeing someone post one of your articles in a natural parenting group I am a part of. I love the way you write and everything you say makes such sense to me! It’s really come at such a good time for me as I’m in the process of deciding whether to quit my job and become a stay at home mum to enable more freedom to travel and hopefully a different lifestyle. Also I’ve recently felt disappointed with my parenting style as its not quite how I imagined I’d be. Reading your article on the way we infringe on the rights of a child speaks out to me and I feel like its given me clear way forward. A heartfelt thank you from me, Jess

  • Exsugarbabe 14 July, 2015 at 7:47 pm

    I agree with every point apart from “no time out”, occasionally I believe it’s essential, baggy rules and too much waffling wreaked my childhood, I had to talk about every emotion endlessly, what I would have done to have some space to think about why I was so angry, silly or just plain unreasonable. My parents needed a chance to calm down and think also because they carried in in the same old way silly situations escalated. After everyone has had a think you can actually talk and think about the incident sensibly and don’t expect your kids to be very good at this, they’re kids, I found sending my daughter outside for a run worked far better than a UN convention about a tantrum.

    As for lettings kids show their emotions, yes I agree but I don’t believe in pandering to every sulk especially manipulative children. At my son’s day out to a theme park I let my daughter bring her friend who decided to pout her way through the day after having a chat I decided she was just being hard work for the hell of it so I let her pout, her choice and sometimes we have to do this with our own children. Some adults in the group fussed around her and she was still miserable, let a child like this be and they may learn from their own mistakes, fuss to much and you are priming these kids to be spoilt adults who want the universe to revolve around them, you are making an unhappy adult.

    • Lucy 15 July, 2015 at 12:41 am

      My bit on Time Out does give space for people who have found Time Out helpful – I think pains need to be taken to ensure it is respectful and not arbitrary and done democratically.

      • Julian 7 June, 2017 at 3:46 am

        Time outs aren’t done democratically, nor should they. They are often done when the child is beyond reason and unable to control themselves. You could say it’s when the child herself is not acting/behaving democratically.

        I get what you’re saying with many of these best aspirations, but at the end of the day, I am not my child’s best friend, I am his/her parent. It’s my responsibility to nurture and grow her into an adult capable of making informed choices.

        Part of the problem with constantly including children in decision making, is that they are often unable to make decisions well. That’s part of the role of a parent, to guide them along the way. Of course, as they are able to make some decisions, they should be allowed to. More responsibility as they grow older and mature. And some choices, like whether to post pictures or not, is beyond the scope of the child to access one way or the other all the ramifications involved; this is true of many parents as well – it can be a dangerous world and many of us are naive to the dangers that exists.

        One issue with much of this codification of the rules is that it ends up getting imposed by outside forces. As you mention in your article, you allow variations based on individual parameters. But states don’t do that. Guidelines are great as suggestions, but people aren’t statistical averages.

        Don’t get me wrong, I’m totally down with the underlying concept that children are human beings that deserve to be treated with respect and dignity.

        One thing I would love to see, are some long term studies that show the efficacy of some of the ideas you put forth. Something not based anecdotally (my parents did X and I turned out okay kind of thing).

        • Lucy 7 June, 2017 at 9:20 am

          Thanks for your comment Julian 😀 I’m not at all interested in the “efficacy” of raising children this way, I don’t need things that I do for ethical reasons to be especially more effective.

  • Heather Deeming 14 July, 2015 at 7:53 pm

    Ooh this is so helpful. Reading through it seems so obvious, but there’s loads of little things I could do differently. The main one that I’ve been consciously working on lately is not talking about my kids in front of them. I’m also a HUGE advocate of not making kids hug/kiss if they don’t want to (I rarely wanted to as a kid, and I think my son is a bit like me) – but consent issues in general are so important and so worth taking time to figure out. Thank you!

    • Lucy 15 July, 2015 at 12:40 am

      Yep, consent is fundamental – parents of children are getting this, but I beleive it begins from birth!

    • Stephanie 6 August, 2015 at 8:18 am

      I agree, I have always been off the opinion that children should not be forced to kiss or hug without consent and if they say they don’t want to it should be accepted without fanfare or fuss. You may ask again, later.

      I realized I do much of this already except for taking things without waiting for them to be handed over. I’ll have to work on that

  • Molly 14 July, 2015 at 8:04 pm

    This is a really interesting read Lucy, thanks for sharing. I think do many of these things already without really thinking about it – although the sharing one is a tricky one as my 9 month old clearly doesn’t have the ability or understanding to say “Yeah Mum, you go right ahead and put that photo of me on Instagram.” Similarly, while my 5yo knows vaguely what the internet is, I don’t think she yet has the full understanding to give 100% informed consent. Interesting points to read about though, even if I don’t 100% agree with every one! x

    • Exsugarbabe 14 July, 2015 at 8:15 pm

      I am careful to protect my anonymity on line so I am wary of talking about my kids too directly.

      Could you compromise about sharing picture online and only share pictures with very close friends? Before the internet childhood was private and in many ways I think we should keep it that way.

      • Lucy 15 July, 2015 at 12:37 am

        I think that would be okay… and I did post photos of baby. It is such a tricky one.

    • Lucy 15 July, 2015 at 12:38 am

      Yeah- I think it is the thought that counts with this one…. questions like, is it a photo that they would mind being out there in the future? Also, how about not naming them, so they can’t be found later by strangers. There are ways of being mindful of human rights and not vowing off all share photography I think…..

      • Marija Smits 25 July, 2015 at 5:55 am

        I agree with you on your points Lucy, but asking young children for permission to use their photos online publically isn’t enough. The adult, in this situation, is the experienced one who understands how children’s photos may be used in awful ways by other adults, and in ways which we have no control over. Little kids have no concept of this, and they just think ‘cool, I’m going to be on mummy’s blog…’ Also, when they are teenagers or adults they may well feel very differently about having their kiddie photos out there. Are we really respecting their right to privacy (& privacy in their future lives) by putting their photos online publically? I think this is where the honest question is: ‘How important is it to me, (as the adult) to have my kids’ photos ‘out there’.’ Some adults think it’s important enough for them. Some don’t. Because, yes, this is really about the adult’s desires, and not the children’s.

        • Lucy 25 July, 2015 at 6:51 am

          I agree that it isn’t enough really. It is a massive massive can of worms this one, and we are really going to have figure this one out- it is a relatively new problem on the scene isn’t it?

      • Becky 29 July, 2015 at 10:52 pm

        Come off it. You are a total hypocrite on this one point. As small children they are incapable of giving informed consent to you posting their traceable, searchable photos online, forever- for all the world to see. Just wait for the day future presidential candidates have their naked bum photos dredged up and plastered in the tabloids. Ok you maybe don’t post naked bums but you are very much taking their right to use of their own image away for your own pleasure and you need to stop. From a mum who never posts pics of my kids online, ever.

        • Lucy 30 July, 2015 at 1:46 am

          Wow, awesome to hear from you. I only know one or two of your kind. It is always really, really good to meet someone way, WAY more down the line of consent than I am. Yeah, I am so, super super challenged on this one. I literally think about it every day.
          Your comment sounded so immensely harsh, it took all my will to not want to bite 🙁 I think we are all hypocrites when we are challenged on something, and struggle to navigate a way forward. I think hypocrisy is a real natural state when people aim for a higher standard.

        • ThaliaKR 30 July, 2015 at 2:12 am

          Becky, if you know Lucy’s work well enough to have an opinion on her approach to photographing her children, you surely also know that ‘Come off it. You are a total hypocrite’ is a) a rude and mean way of speaking that is well out of order in this kind and civil corner of the internet and b) not at all a fair comment of Lucy, who *clearly* tries her damnedest to live out her principles, in every part of her life, from purchasing to parenting.

          There’s a huge debate to be had about how parents make their kids public by posting photos, but it’s never going to be had sensibly if people throw around such unhelpful, insulting language.

          I reckon Lucy deserves an apology for the tone of your comment.

          • LL 3 August, 2015 at 5:02 pm

            I, too, have never posted any pictures online of my now 14-month-old. My husband and I agreed on this before she was born. Sometimes I am so tempted because everyone else is doing is it and I do feel left out. But I don’t for all the reasons the above poster mentioned. Additionally, we have no idea what the state of things will be in this digital world of ours in 10 or 20 years. I could be doing her an IMMENSELY huge favor by never having put so much as her name on the Internet. And if that turns out not to be the case, then still no harm done.
            I’ve honestly never heard of ‘child rights’ and I am liking this article, but I have always felt this way about posting pictures of anyone online. You need their permission AND they need to understand the scope. A child simply cannot. I do have a 10-year-old who I very rarely post pictures of, and I ALWAYS ask her first and about half the time she surprisingly says no! The only reason I’ve even slightly given in with her is because her dad and I aren’t together and he posts pictures of her, as well as her family and I’ve even found whole albums of my kid posted by an exgf of his. I tried to get those removed but a lot of the stuff I cannot control with her since her dad and I aren’t together.

          • Lucy 4 August, 2015 at 6:55 am

            So great to hear your decision and experience, thank you

        • Esther Bettis 26 June, 2017 at 2:01 am

          We should never put pics up online of our kids….once up we never know who is seeing them for what reason.End of.

  • ThaliaKR 14 July, 2015 at 9:12 pm

    This is wonderful, Lucy.

    I would DEFINITELY add food to the list, though I know that is a huge thing for families to change if they are currently exerting control over what goes in their kids’ mouths.

    I vividly remember the feeling of misery as I gagged on whatever food I was determined not to eat but being made to as a child. It was horrible.

    I have found great freedom in thinking to myself that it is my job to provide an appropriate range of food for my kids, and their job to decide what they will choose to eat. I’m not suggesting that our family is a scientific study on this approach, but I will still say that we have a three-year-old who is thriving, eats a good range of vegetables, plenty of spicy food, and is willing to try anything – because he knows he doesn’t *have* to.

    AND: we have never once fought about his food intake. The dinner table is never a battleground.

    My hope is that he is learning to know for himself when he is hungry and full, and learning from us what constitutes sensible eating (we don’t generally forbid foods but we do give him nutritional information on things).

    • Lucy 15 July, 2015 at 12:36 am

      Thalia, point ten was actually about food. All written up, ready to publish. But I had a change of heart. I feel PASSIONATELY about never, ever making children eat certain foods. For me it is absolute human rights abuse.
      However, with this ten i was trying to choose the easiest habits to change and i think food and sleep are the hardest! It grates hard against are instinct for “helping our kids be healthy” – I decided I needed to take a lot more time and provide many more scripts and alternatives, rather than bunging it in here.
      I agree with everything you say!

      • ThaliaKR 15 July, 2015 at 4:33 am

        Look forward to reading it! I do love these ten 🙂

  • Lucy at occupation:(m)other 14 July, 2015 at 10:59 pm

    Such an interesting post. Every point resonates and I try to abide by these. I always get twitchy when a relative demands a kiss or a cuddle from my son, I always tell him he doesn’t have to.
    But the point that stands out for me this week is talking about him in front of people. I bumped into someone the other day and my son got a bit cross about something so as a way of joking away his behaviour to the other person I said ‘he’s been so grumpy today’. As soon as I said it I felt embarrassed and subsequently apologised to my boy and explained why I said it. I think when they are very young babies it becomes a habit to meet up with people and dissect sleeping, eating etc but we absolutely wouldn’t do that with any other person we know. How belittling. And also who cares what the other person thought about my son, I really shouldn’t have done!
    Wonderful post, very glad I found your blog

    • Lucy 15 July, 2015 at 12:33 am

      So cool to hear people tuning in to their “instinct for human rights” and acting on it! massive high fives mama

  • Susan 15 July, 2015 at 2:09 am

    After reading this, i think i am a monster! my poor little girl 5 years old likes to wear her old clothes … and she hates almost all the new ones. i give up. there is no any thing i could tell or do to make her change her pint of view. Where is the point when i have to act and when not to do it, respecting her own rights? How do I know that she isn’t acting just like a whimsical little girl?? … and my other little 3 years old little girl… she just want to sleep with me and my husband, she awake 3 or 4 times at night to go into my bed or to call me from her bed to ask for water, bathroom, monsters, milk or anything to make me go to be with her. I haven’t slept well for 4 months. What can i do ? Let her cry]? Not to go when she calls me? a physical punishment? I had long conversations during this 4 months with this little girl to make her understand why mama needs to rest properly, but this conversation have been taken 4 months… I think she doesn’t understand the meaning of rest properly. Im so tired! I don’t want to punish her o make her cry, maybe she needs more connection o maybe she realy feels fear about something… after all, she is only 3 ! greeting from Bolivia! 🙂

    • Lucy 15 July, 2015 at 3:15 am

      Hello from England! oh no, not a monster at all!
      I feel like you have answered some of your questions during your comment 😀
      With the clothes- can I ask why you don’t want her to wear old clothes? There could be a really good, practical reason that she prefers them to the new ones- more comfortable, less itchy tags.
      With the sleep – sleep is important… our own children do mostly sleep in our bed as it is the way we get the more sleep. A tired mama is no good though – can you find a way of getting a nap in the day too? I think we need to find ways to stay sane and respect children’s rights. I think these things are compatible if we do enough creative thinking!

  • Cathy 15 July, 2015 at 3:39 am

    Waah, I do four of these!

    On the plus side that means I don’t do six of them 🙂

    Talking about them in front of them – I’m dreadful for that. It’s really tough when you only get about two hours a day without them 😉 but that’s not really an excuse and as you say, you can always involve them.

    The announcing ‘right, it’s time to go’ when they are enjoying themselves is tricky, my older daughter in particular has these spells of intense, hyper concentration and flow particularly when she’s just starting to get tired.

    It’s a joy to behold and lasts a while and while I really don’t want to interrupt I do know that after a certain point she will suddenly realise she’s exhausted and ravenous and all hell will break loose. I want to get her home and tea on the go before we get to that stage. I find it useful to ask her how much longer we should stay at the park/wherever we are before we go home for tea. I am aiming for 10 minutes, so if she says ‘thirty minutes’ I will say ‘that’s quite a long time and I’m worried we will all get hungry, how about 10 minutes?’ and she’ll generally go for it. Then I set my phone timer so it’s the phone, not me, deciding it’s ‘time to go’ and I think that makes it easier for her to comply.

    Ditto rather than saying ‘I want you to tidy up/stop hitting your sister/whatever’ I find if I say ‘in this house we tidy up/we don’t hit/whatever’ and that is a bit more effective than me being Big Boss Lady barking all the rules.

    I also ask them to wipe their own noses or ask if I can do it. It makes me bristle when my in-laws come and my MIL just swoops in clucking and fussing ‘ooh it’s running right into her mouth!’ and practically takes their noses off with a wipe. I am strongly tempted to say ‘well you know snot is primarily comprised of iron and protein so actually it’s practically a health drink.’

    I let my children down by actually not speaking out and next time I will, because that’s part of it all too – speaking up for them when they can’t speak for themselves (or wouldn’t be listened to)

    • Lucy 15 July, 2015 at 7:52 am

      ‘well you know snot is primarily comprised of iron and protein so actually it’s practically a health drink.’ That is magnificent!
      A real keeper 😀
      I think you should be high fiving yourself for all the things you DO do – YES FOR THE SIX! Four is TOTALLY workable – you’ll nail them soon 😀

  • Michelle Twin Mum 15 July, 2015 at 8:16 am

    Wow, what a superb article. So in-depth and thought-provoking. I didn’t realise you’d have such an interesting past either Lucy.

    The sharing online one is getting harder and harder as my kids get older and they do veto some pics now but mainly are still OK. They know many good things coming from my blogging and their reviewing. Mich x

  • Dizzy 15 July, 2015 at 8:38 am

    I’m not a parent (although I am an aunt) so I don’t feel qualified to say much but YES to the forced hugs and kissing. I used to hate having to do that as a child (especially when my Dad is one of 5 so if all aunties and uncles were present it was quite a parade). I always try to remember and ask before smothering them in kisses and cuddles (which is hard to hold back from because I live so far away from them I don’t see them very often). That extends to Skype and phone calls too. I don’t want them to feel they have to play a particular role for me and I reckon my relationship with them is probably better for it. The oldest one thinks I’m pretty cool anyway 😉

  • Sarah 15 July, 2015 at 11:38 pm

    I love your blog, Lucy, I’m always so pleased when there is a new article to read and digest and this one is no exception. Very thought provoking. I caught myself talking about my daughter in front of her the other day and knew on some level it felt wrong as I actually momentarily covered her ears up!! It was only to lament to another mum about a toddler tantrum and get some sympathy but from now on I will really try to avoid this. The other point about asking permission before picking her up really struck a cord too, I’m guilty of swooping her up for a giant snuggle which she doesn’t always want, whoops! Hope you are enjoying your UK trip x

  • Hannah Taylor 16 July, 2015 at 3:43 am

    These are really useful and though provoking. The clothes i’m totally there with the clothes…..I would love my daughter to dress differently it’s pink pink pink with her! I’m pretty sure though that throughout my teenage years and adult life my mum wishes I would dress differently though! When she started picking her own clothes (very early on) it was such a realisation that she is totally her own unique person, which of course I knew but it could be easy to forget.

  • Kiera 20 July, 2015 at 10:38 pm

    Hey Lucy

    This article has brought about some debate on my facebook. Instead of time-out, what are your ‘connection alternatives’?

    Hope life is well with you 🙂

    • Lucy 21 July, 2015 at 8:12 am

      Hey Kiera 😀
      Some families do a “Time In” as popularised by the amazing Dr Laura Markham (she has so many great ideas.) The idea is that if a child is crossing boundaries, it is highly likely that they are expressing a need, so firstly think what that could be and then meet it, and very often the need is the need for connection. So a “Time In” might take the form of cuddles, going to a special place, playing…
      We tend to have a three step process:
      1- empathise with them (if they threw something in anger, help them feel supported in their anger)
      2- connect with them (hearing them, continued empathy, cuddles eye contact)
      3- once all is calm and back to normal, when everything is feeling safe for them, talk about why throwing things at people isn’t okay and what the other options are.

      It takes getting used to, but soon becomes a default method.

      I’m not all about quitting the time -outs if that then leads to parents not coping, by the way too… it is better than all out loosing it on the kids…. I think, ideally, when parents are well supported neither of those option has to be on the cards.

      Hope that helps- would love to hear your ideas too x

      • bx 24 July, 2015 at 12:11 pm

        Hey Lucy, just thought about this one, it’s a bit tough when you are used to punishments/bribes way of doing things… but once you decide not to do it, it’s not too difficult really. The only time I use a ‘time out’ (and I realise this not actually what you are talking about) is when one of my children is hurting another, and they are ‘out of control’. In this instance, ‘time in’ does not de-escalate at all, in fact, it escalates and I get in the middle and get hurt. When it’s just you with two strong children it is sometimes difficult to manage physical situations exactly how you want to, no matter how calm you yourself are… So, I’d say that the only time I use ‘time out’ is when I have a feeling that my child actually needs to be angry in a safe place – where he won’t hurt someone physically, so I will tell him that I want him to go away from the situation until he is able to be around the people involved without hurting them. I also usually ask him if he wants me to be with him or not, and he only ever has once. I don’t call it a time out, I suppose. But it kind of is, in the sense that it’s time away from the emotions of what’s going on…
        Dunno, what do you think?

        • Lucy 25 July, 2015 at 6:34 am

          I think this sounds good- particularly asking if he wants your support and company. It is the excluding them from an area/ your presence that seems to be the biggest issue with time out.

          • MichelleW 13 August, 2015 at 10:42 am

            Alfie Kohn writes some insightful stuff about time out…particularly the difference between forcing children to have time out, and allowing them to choose to have some space. I don’t use time out at all s a parent, though as a teacher it’s part of school policy so sometimes I resort, but nearly always feel I could have dealt with it better. I have taken part in rights respecting schools training Lucy, so am really interested in your post. Anyway, I also think that sometimes people feel that no time out =no boundaries, and it’s really important to realise that you can be clear about what’s acceptable through discussion and empathy, and talking about related consequences (not dreamt up punishments, but real consequences) of actions. It’s not ok to just allow children to do nasty things or let them get themselves all wound up, but time out it not the only option. I enjoyed reading Kohn’s Unconditional Parenting, as he puts this sort of thing in context. Thanks again for this post… I feel I used to be better at some of these, but have lapsed as my daughter has become a toddler 🙂

          • Lucy 13 August, 2015 at 10:08 pm


    • Cassie 1 March, 2017 at 8:13 pm

      Thank you thank you for this article! I love being made more aware of things I do and say that I have not questioned. But what I found the most helpful is the idea of always treating a child as we would an adult family member. I will try to think of my daughter in this light from now on. I am so excited to change for the better!

      Regarding the posting of photos online, I have made a rule to not post pics of my daughter on her own. She is always with others in the pics. This is because I post pics of me with friends/family if they are nice without asking them. But I wouldn’t post lots and lots of pics, say of my hubby eating, working, in bed, etc without asking him.

  • gael 24 July, 2015 at 1:29 am

    The very nature of a child is being selfish , you have the proof when they are born, they never ask you permission to wake you up in the middle of the night and so on. By always asking a child permission you reinforcing this nature of selfishness and egocentrism. Not having a say over something doesn’t mean not respecting your child.
    What about you ask a toddler to blow his nose and this one say ‘no’ do you blow it anyway? Do you say he doesn’t have the choice on the matter? You will contradict yourself in front of him…
    The society prove us everyday that this approach is far from good, we never seen so many young people thinking they are ‘king’ and the world owe them something. By leaving more liberty, are the children more respectful, more caring, more kind to each other?? No
    The children have little respect nowadays.( teacher, parents, even friends)
    Giving them so many choices by asking all the time, it isn’t respecting them, you are doing the opposite cause you don’t give them the tools to integrate in society later on.

    • Daniela 1 August, 2015 at 3:17 am

      Yes, thank you. I agree.

    • Lucy 12 August, 2015 at 12:17 am

      Finding this one hard to answer as I fundamentally disagree with you!

      Children don’t have their “empathy neurons” fired up in their brain for a few years – but the single, ONLY way that these EVER grow (so says science) is if a child is treated with empathy.

      My feeling is that children need a team, to advocate, to be on their side, and with this attachment and support they can face ANYTHING.

  • bx 24 July, 2015 at 12:16 pm

    Another I would add to this list is doing things for children. I try to wait a lot. Be patient. Usually kids can do most things for themselves… It’s kind of a balance, I suppose, children will do things when they are ready to do them, and they will ask for help if they need it… If we constantly do things for them, we are hindering their right to learn… children generally learn most stuff by doing…

    • Lucy 25 July, 2015 at 6:34 am

      Absolutely, completely and utterly agree! Waiting is the answer for so many parenting challenges!

    • Tinker 22 August, 2016 at 4:06 am

      I do think some of your points are fantastic, ie not talking in front of your child and the Internet one, definately one for me to think about! However, I do think children feel very insecure if they are not given clear boundaries and guidelines by caregivers. A two year old for example, pushes you to find out how far they can go, wanting you to say, here, you have reached the limit, now stop. It shows you care and are interested in their safety and behaviour. Long drawn out discussions about every undesirable action can give the child impression that every little thing that you ask them to do or not do is up for negotiation, when certain things aren’t, i.e. hurting your friend. I have taught in early years, KS1, for 11 years and have seen the result of children who have not had structure and limits established, and it’s not pretty, and they certainly aren’t happy children, or parents. I taught little girl who argued with me about everything I asked her to do, as this was what she was allowed to do at home. It certainly didn’t make her likeable or able to take on the idea of others. She also showed signs of anxiety as she fretted over little things that didn’t go entirely as she wanted. I think the needs of orphans, one which these ideas and research are based, are very different to needs of a secure and attached child, in a happy and loving home.

  • Samanthalucy 30 July, 2015 at 12:21 am

    I think a lot of what you say is great, but I feel very uneasy about the nose wiping thing in terms of infection control. I can foresee situations where noses remains unwiped and as the children play and move about the snot becomes wiped on different toys/surfaces. Especially in play groups etc this would mean infections are spread to other children. I don’t think that is respecting the rights of other children or adults. I suppose you could explain to your child why their nose needed to be wiped, but they may struggle to understand, and what if they still say no, given that young children can be egocentric. What are your views on this?

    • Lucy 12 August, 2015 at 12:53 am

      Well, the idea is based on what Emmi Pikler found, working with thousands of kids in orphanages in Hungry. If treated with respect, and invited to be a part of these care moments, they will WANT to do it. Given time, and patience, children can be great at coming for a nose wipe – or wiping it themselves.

      • Sunshine 12 August, 2015 at 6:11 am

        My toddler, whome has Down syndrome and is a tad delayed in development started wiping his own nose and cleaning his own hands and face after a messy meal at the age of 1. Practicing beforehand. And he absolutely loves this freedom. When I ask him if he would like a tissue ( towel) he dramatizes his YES, PLEASE!! If he doesn’t want to ( which is rare) I leave him be, booger and all. Just to illustrate that children are great learners even with their challenges, and they appreciate the chance to control their own discomforts.

        • Lucy 12 August, 2015 at 8:17 am

          AWESOME!! massive high fives to you and your son…

  • Jessica 30 July, 2015 at 8:30 am

    Really enjoyed this, thank you. I ‘ask’ my 8 month old if he wants to be picked up by tapping him under the arms, if he responds by putting his arms up I pick him up, if he doesn’t I know he’s busy & give him a minute. It’s something I do naturally because I respect him. Not a big deal, not spoiling or pandering, not making him feel like a king as suggested in some of these replies, just being respectful.

    • Lucy 30 July, 2015 at 8:42 am

      That’s so perfect to hear! I’ve read somewhere today that people think this post says “don’t pick up your children” which of course I would never ever suggest – what you’ve come up with sums up so perfectly the natural communication and invitation process that we can develop between parent and child WHOOPWHOOP!

  • Danny 30 July, 2015 at 7:54 pm

    It does make for an interesting read. Funny fact is I do all of this and I would never change. kids are pretty much dependant on there parents and asking for scissors back from a child? say they kid did something and hurt themselves what would you do then?
    everyone is different in their ways they parent. none of these are bad parenting and I think it’s stupid how these child rights you think are amazing are just too stupid to take seriously

  • Kevin 31 July, 2015 at 9:17 am

    I like what this article stands for, but it has grossly missed the mark.

    1) The state is antithetical to human rights. You can’t be a proponent of the state and the U.N. *and* be a proponent of human rights.
    2) You left out the two most pressing ways people trample the rights of children: spanking and public schooling.

    I do believe that your heart is in the right place, but I would encourage you to think deeper on this topic.

    • Lucy 4 August, 2015 at 6:36 am

      Hello, yes I absolutely agree! As explained in another topic I took the ten I think most easy to action, to change right now in your family life, today. I also didn’t know this would be read by so many Americans where spanking is common. Here in NZ it is actually illegal! I completed believe physical “discipline” is a human right abuse.

  • Sunshine 31 July, 2015 at 10:10 am


    Thanks for sharing your findings. I agree with this concept towards all of life. Without respect our progress is stunted. Even looking at something as simple as water. If you disrespect it, you will eventually lose your access to it. That can have dire consequences.

    I have had to really look at how I was raised and focus on not doing what I felt was and is disrespectful. I’m still trying to sort some of these with my parents, regardless of how wonderful their intentions were/are.

    The one that I’m guilty of is #7. I have thought about the concerns. But I decided so far that exposure to my friends list only can have its benefits. My toddler has Down Syndrome. People with Down Syndrome have been hidden from society for quite a long time. They are still targeted as unwanted citizens. In the past 50 years we have changed their life expectancy from 10 yrs to 70 or more. A great deal, in my opinion, has to do with integration. There are many ways to integrate, but I have to say, online hits more loved ones at once. And my toddler has gained a lot of love and support. I think that my toddler’s exposure has educated some generalizations and prejudices out of people. As well as having our community witness our beautiful experience with this wonderful human being, and seeing how similar it is to theirs.

    I still wonder if it’s the right thing to do. As I’m very aware of the control I’m taking from him over posting his photos. I plan on getting consent as soon as he can give it.

    I’m open to opinion.

    • Lucy 4 August, 2015 at 6:37 am

      I think you have thought about this hard and I also agree with you points – it is why I have continued to shared white intimate moments of the children nursing. Amazing to here your story x

  • Heather 31 July, 2015 at 11:58 am

    Your post is very thought provoking and I have recognized myself doing a lot of these things, that j clearly could improve on. But what I’d love for you to address because I didn’t see it in your post, is what to do when a clear act of defiance or aggression has taken place. For example a toy was thrown at another child say at a playgroup. If a time out is so bad, why offering cuddle time to the child in front of the parents that this child hurt, might be taken the wrong way. I think sometimes kids are too coddled and need to know clear boundaries and the only way I could see addressing the issue would be a time out to think about what they did. Most of the time my children are in time out its because of harmful behavior to another person. I’d love to know your ideas on this.

    • Kevin 4 August, 2015 at 2:56 am

      The problem is often not with the child’s behavior, but our perception of the behavior. Throwing a toy is age appropriate behavior for a human being that lacks more advanced communication skills. That doesn’t mean it’s okay to let them continue doing it, but labeling it “defiant” or “aggressive” is doing the child a disservice.

      You can teach clear boundaries and limits without punishment and isolation. Putting a child in time-out doesn’t make them think about what they did, it makes them think about what you’re doing to them. And of course, you’re using force to accomplish your goal of teaching them not to use force—that’s a little confusing.

      • Lucy 4 August, 2015 at 6:56 am

        Well said

      • Chloe 28 August, 2015 at 9:24 am

        Ok, so in that situation, what would you do INSTEAD of time out? As I new parent, I have seen so many people disagree with time out, but no actual advice on what to do instead?

    • Lucy 4 August, 2015 at 6:40 am

      You see, I don’t see any behaviours as being very specific to the way a child was parented – lots of children go through this developmentally stage of feeling their force, making an impact, this physical aggression. I agree cuddle time can be taken badly. And it has for me in the past. I always say “hitting is never okay” before trying to connect and I always talk things through with the parents if possible to explain why I have chosen this way, these days.

  • Sheila 31 July, 2015 at 12:19 pm

    Great post! But doesn’t the un convention for the rights of the child support compulsory education (ie, forcing kids to school against their will because of a “right to be educated”?

    Does it also support mandatory vaccines in the name of the “right to healthcare”?

    • Lucy 4 August, 2015 at 6:41 am

      I don’t think the terms “education” and “healthcare” relate to “school” or “vaccines” but I agree it is worrying that in some cases it is seen to be so- for example in developing countries.

  • Dani 31 July, 2015 at 4:30 pm

    I don’t think I’m going to take advice from someone who let’s their toddler play with knives. Supervised or not, it doesn’t sound like a great idea. Also, why do I need to ask my toddler permission for every little thing? If he had a snotty nose I’m going to wipe it because he’s spreading germs everywhere. I’m the parent, not their friend. I don’t believe in spanking. Time out is a great way to relax and reflect on what you did wrong. And now your telling me that’s not a good idea. I guess I should let my kid run amuck and avoid teaching him any personal responsibility. He can run around with the rest of these kids that think they are entitled to everything.

    • Kevin 4 August, 2015 at 2:58 am

      “I guess I should let my kid run amuck…” — Once you think things through, you’ll realize how intellectually lazy and immature that statement is.

    • Lucy 4 August, 2015 at 6:42 am

      I believe rights and responsibilities are entirely entwined- I believe a child will grow into a super responsible citizen as a result of having their rights respected. Also, I am my child’s friend, 100%

      • Annelies 5 August, 2015 at 8:45 pm

        I like you Lucy! ☺
        It seems a taboo to consider yourself your child’s friend, but it is so how I feel.

        Liked your article, thought provoking even if I don’t agree with everyhing 100% at this time.

        I find it difficulf how people confuse this kind of parenting your children (which is far from lazy and much more intensive than punishment and rewards) with setting no boundaries etc (like stated a above by Dani).

        The best from the Netherlands!

  • Tiffany 31 July, 2015 at 8:15 pm

    Yes to everything! Well said. Are you already following Sounds like her thoughts (RIE inspired) would be right up your alley.

  • Frank 1 August, 2015 at 5:03 am

    Sorry, I’m going to disagree with you quite a bit here … please take it as only disagreement with your position. It has nothing to do with you at all as a person. I’m sure you are a very nice person.

    This article is disingenuous (to say the least). When you talk about “Human rights” as defined by the UN ( They define them there and include this sentence “We are all equally entitled to our human rights without discrimination.” Almost every point you makes fails at aligning with this definition. Parents are NOT discriminating against their children when they keep them from walking on the road, or playing with knives or keeping them from playing in a manner that could be dangerous for their age. Children are defined as children because they do not have the mental maturity to constantly make good or unharmful decisions. The justice system would be in shambles if we used this line of reasoning for children’s rights. We would typically think it’s grossly unfair to treat a child that, say stole something or caused property damage as an adult … because they are not mature enough and society recognizes. We don’t allow children to vote for the same reasons. Is that infringing on their human rights?

    If you had just said, these 10 points help create an independent, reasoning and rational human while protecting them in a manner that is respectful to them. I’d be in almost complete agreement with you. I know I do some of these things with my kids and think everyone should do that same. However, as a whole I think this article is entirely misleading.

    Thanks for letting me have input on this.


    • Lucy 4 August, 2015 at 6:51 am

      Hi, I beleive using the language of child rights is vital because it has been the key, historically, to groups of people realising their full personhood in society. This is what needs to happen for children.

      There’s some helpful images used amongst equality rhetoric- I am all about creating a level playing field where children can contribute and be respected according to their development – as opposed to simply pointing out the starting line and getting everyone to race the same race. (Applying all the responsibilities that adults have as an example. We actually have this quite sorted within adult judicial system- people with mental health issues are given full rights often, yet are not expected to fulfil the same responsibilities)

  • Wendy 2 August, 2015 at 10:21 am

    I so agree. As a parent I attempted to do everything you outlined. My kids are responsible and loving grownups. I had two favorite rultes: If you can do it, you can do it. This took care of athletic kinds of risks. If they could get up the tree, they could climb it. This meant they were ready.
    The second one was that I had a clear line, left of which they could make all their decisions themselves, and right of which I would help them to a safe and sane choice. I never understood parents who chose clothing or made kids eat.
    As an educator, I struggle to help teachers see the wisdom of this approach. There is so much fear about “making sure kids do the right thing.” How do we learn if we never make mistakes? Are we that confident that we know what is the right thing?
    Keep up the good work!! Check out my blog!

    • Lucy 4 August, 2015 at 6:51 am

      I love all you say and I shall check out your blog this instant!

  • Carlie 3 August, 2015 at 10:56 am

    There is so much I want to say, but just have a hard time forming the words. My oldest two children (11 and 16) found this read laughable…as admittedly, I did too. (I actually looked to see if it was one of those sarcastic joking-type articles like “Why not to become a parent”). While there are elements of sound advice here (not holding a child against his/her will for a non-safety reason….) I would love to see a follow up article down the line as to how you feel about these items when your children are teenagers and have learned that all others, including parents are to yield to their will and desires…..

    • Kevin 4 August, 2015 at 3:01 am

      You really think that’s the case? Seems to me that almost everyone complains about teenagers being rude, irresponsible, and disconnected. The majority of teenagers are raised by people who hit, forcibly isolate, and who are emotionally unavailable. It seems to me that the problem isn’t more connection…it’s a lack of connection in the first place. Nobody is advocating for “yielding to their will and desires.” The first step in honest argumentation is to not create straw men. It doesn’t seem like you’re willing to have an honest conversation.

    • Lucy 4 August, 2015 at 6:52 am

      I can see how it would be seen as satirical if somebody really didn’t believe that children were fully human, deserving of our respect.

  • Nicole 3 August, 2015 at 2:09 pm

    This is a great read! We do many of these, but I’m curious about how you handle something like rinsing soap out of hair during a bath, or something similar? My LO hates having a bath, but she obviously needs one from time to time 🙂

    • Lucy 4 August, 2015 at 6:55 am

      I think that if the rules aren’t arbitrary than they tend to be respected. Daily baths is definitely arbitrary! There are ways to help children be clean in a way they enjoy- a weekly swim or stuff like that 🙂

  • Phillipa 6 August, 2015 at 8:59 am

    I love this! I had multiple discussions (read: very heated discussions) with my extended family about why I don’t MAKE my 3 year old daughter hug or kiss them if she didn’t want to. She always farewells them respectfully but still needs to be able to say no when it comes to her body – and know that no means no.

    I feel rather vindicated by your blog, thanks! X

  • Sally 10 August, 2015 at 8:57 am

    I fully agree with the concept behind this article, and have always held a very similar philosophy with my parenting. However, the idea of asking a child before picking them up, especially when they have just fallen seems not just too ridiculously polite-British, but perfectly anal. And yes, I can put myself in their shoes in that situation and feel entirely the same. Recently I witnessed a child fall quite badly in quite a crowded place, when her parents had walked on ahead and, although many saw her fall, no-one went to pick her up, presumably for fear of how it would be received by either herself or her parents, but unable to see someone lying on the ground in pain, I pulled her up to sitting, if just to give her the reassurance of human touch, until her parents arrived. She didn’t fight me. In fact I believe she appreciated it. There was once a time when I, as an adult, fell flat on my face. It was in India, I was sick and weak with dysentery and walking in the midday sun with a heavy backpack on, when I tripped and hadn’t the strength to even try to stop myself from falling, thus smashing my face on some stone steps. I can say, to this day, I have so much gratitude to the Indian men that came, lifted me to my feet, led me to a table inside the restaurant, and poured me a glass of water (probably the same water that made me sick in the first place). They didn’t ask me though. It was spontaneous humanity emerging from their souls. It may have been my right to be asked first, but it was also my right to be cared for by a fellow human being, and it was the rights of those two men to follow their instincts to naturally go to the aid of another. I still bare a scar from that fall, and will always be reminded of the heartfelt care of one human to another.

    • Lucy 12 August, 2015 at 12:55 am

      That’s a really lovely story. It was your experience, though not others. Both of my children HATE being touched by strangers and would rather have someone kneel by them waiting for their parent to come. Support and kindness can be offered without being picked up, I beleive.

  • Rox 13 August, 2015 at 9:02 am

    What are some ways to negotiate these things with younger children? The picture taking, for example? I like to share pictures since we don’t live near family and they enjoy them, but my son is still to young to understand what it being online means. Also, what about toys? I want to clean out some of his toys, but I don’t think he would really understand the concept of choosing toys to give away.

  • Anonymouse 13 August, 2015 at 10:23 am

    I’m pretty certain that if this trivial stuff is what you’d consider a human rights violation, you’ve never actually experienced a human rights violation.

    You want to go tell girls in several African/Middle Eastern cultures that a baby being picked up compares to having their genitals mutilated? Do you want to tell all the men and boys who have been damaged by circumcision that their mutilated genitals are at all comparable to their mothers wiping their nose?

    I whole heartedly agree that children should not have their feelings ignored, and I absolutely agree you shouldn’t encroach upon your child’s personal space without their consent. But belittling actual human rights violations by comparing it to THIS? You’re off your rocker.

    • Lucy 13 August, 2015 at 10:07 pm

      I don’t believe that acknowledging small human rights violations undermines the life-endangering sort of human rights violation AT ALL. In fact, I believe that when parents, in their own home, recognise their children have rights, then we will begin to see an end to the global injustices you speak of. I am utterly saddened by your need to speak so violently towards me when we are clearly both advocating for a world where justice reigns.

  • Nokuthula Mtembo 14 August, 2015 at 5:13 pm

    We r empowered with knowledge greatly

  • Becky 16 August, 2015 at 8:12 pm

    A great post Lucy I am astounded when people talk about their chidlrens challenges online and the photos are an a issue too but like you i do struggle with that need to challenge myself more. i do know what is right in my heart

  • Chloe 28 August, 2015 at 7:55 am

    Love the post as always!

    Interested to know your thoughts on kisses and cuddles…. I totally get the whole ‘don’t force children to kiss friends and family’ thing, but should I not be kissing my daughter? She is five months old… And I currently another her in kisses and cuddles most of the day!!! I can’t help it! Should I stop as she can’t give me ‘consent’?

    • Chloe 28 August, 2015 at 7:57 am


    • Lucy 28 August, 2015 at 8:03 am

      No! She loves your touch and is meant is meant to have it! Build up the culture of consent with age- so ask her to kiss/ cuddle/ pick up before or say “I’m going to pick you up now” and then go ahead and soon she will show you when she is ready 🙂 xxx

  • Bethany ~ twoOregonians 9 September, 2015 at 3:47 pm

    Ah, thanks for this list! I feel like I try to approach parenting with many of these angles in mind…but I need a bit of a reminder/encouragement from time to time. My little daughter is nearly two, and these past years of learning the road of parenthood (after being an independent traveler and an adventurous spirit for so long before!) have challenged and shaped me in more ways than I ever could’ve anticipated. Very nice to discover your blog.

  • Jeff 13 September, 2015 at 1:15 am

    Hi Lucy, this is great stuff. I am curious if you have heard of nonviolent communication? Nonviolent communication is a process that values everyone’s needs and goes beyond the labels of parent (decision maker) and child (decision obeyer.) The process of Nonviolent Communication automatically puts you in the mode of respecting others regardless of age or relationship and then you don’t need to say things like don’t use time-outs.


    • Lucy 13 September, 2015 at 7:56 pm

      Hi Jeff
      Yes, I love NVC and believe it goes hand in hand 🙂 there is a link at the bottom of this post to my post about NVC as parents.
      Thank you so much for commenting!

      • Jeff 15 September, 2015 at 2:50 am

        Ha! Funny how I missed the NVC where it was spelled out and saw the spirit of NVC throughout you post.

  • Samia_B 15 September, 2015 at 9:37 pm

    Hello. A new-mum friend send me a link to your post – I am new to this blog. I am interested in your ideas. You have clearly given this a lot of careful thought. You sounds like a really good parent. May I check, how do you deal with misbehaviour? i.e. when a child does something that is not acceptable – for example rudeness, hitting, or whatever.

    The reason I ask is I do share Gael’s concern that children may not learn how to obey orders, or to do things that they don’t want to do, if they are always consulted. This may impact upon their ability to do a job (where they will have a boss) or learn in school (where they will need to listen to a teacher and study) . Rightly or wrongly, such hierarchical institutions are how our society works. Our children need to learn that self-discipline required to thrive in the real world, and not grow up to believe that it all revolves around them and their needs and desires.

    I often despair when I see parents trying and failing to negotiate with a 2, 3 or 4 year old that is playing up – for example they don’t want to leave the park – and the parent gives in. Often you can’t negotiate or involve children in decisions. It’s simply not practical. You can WARN them that something is coming, e..g “we are leaving for school in 2 minutes” so that they don’t get a shock when it’s time to go, but you can’t give them a say in whether they want to be on time for school (unless you are happy to give them the message that school is unimportant, of course) . Being consistent is so important – a parent who regularly negotiates and gives in will not be listened to.

    • Sunshine 16 September, 2015 at 8:11 am


      I’m cutting in to leave my two cents. But my no means do I mean to take over Lucy’s anticipated reply.

      I think this mindset and philosophy sets up your child to avoiding staying in an abusive situation and relationship, wether it be a friendship, a partnership, a family member, or a job. It’s unhealthy to believe that someone has authority over you. It’s healthy ( in a job, for example) to understand that they have authority over the job you are hired to do. Therefor focusing on that can help communicate that, be it to a child, an adult , a senior, or anyone.

      In regards to negotiating with a child, it has to serve their cognitive level. Giving a young child ( toddler) a choice of two outcomes you would be happy with teaches them that their input matters, and that they have as much control as you do over what you are about to do together or not. It’s a discipline of how to treat each other, and yet still keeps you in control.

      Ie: with the park example, give the child a choice of leaving in 5 mins or leaving right away. Or something similar to that.

      Choices also open lines of communication. This is so important in disclosing problems your child may alternatively have to suffer silently with, as well as preparing a good habit for when they reach adolescence. It’s important to know that someone cares to listen.

      It’s a good question and ofcourse teaching requires a lot of patience and re-learning on our end.

  • Samia_B 16 September, 2015 at 10:33 am

    Hi Sunshine.
    What you say is very interesting. Your point about children with overly authoritarian parents maybe feeling that an unhealthy power balance later in life is “normal” is something to keep in mind and I had never thought of this before. I think I need to investigate this further – you have got me a little worried with that statement! I think maybe I came across as very authoritarian in my post above. I don’t actually bark orders at them or expect perfect obedience. Well, not all the time anyway. I do take your point about listening – we all need to try and do this better. Our kids do seem better behaved than others, but maybe that’s because they are too emotionally repressed to express themselves 😉 Hah!
    To be honest, one of the reasons I instinctively react strongly to suggestions of giving children even more power / choice is that I see so many self-centred children with a bad attitude around the place, and I worry about this making them into unhappy adults. I think that maybe we have our wires slightly crossed. I don’t really disagree with the tips in the blog post. I just also really strongly believe that a child who learns self discipline and deferred gratification is going to end up happier in later life because they will be equipped to reach their goals. This is not inconsistent with following the tips in this blog, as far as I can see. Think I need to do some more careful thinking / googling on how to teach your children self discipline and good attitude without screwing them up by imposing authoritarian rules and not listening. It may be that I have not been going about it in the best way.
    Finally, I should come clean and say that I am probably the polar opposite of your target audience for this blog. I am definitely not a free spirit (the term makes me cringe I’m sorry to say) or attachment parent (although my kids who are now 6 and 4 are most definitely securely attached). I routined my children from a few weeks old so that we could all get a full nights sleep within a couple of months (All Hail Gina!) and so co-sleeping is definitely not for me. I also never used a sling or washable nappies, but have plenty of friends who do. I did breast feed though. Does one out of four qualify me to be here? 😉
    Ah, I do love a good debate.
    Wouldn’t it be boring if we all agreed?

    • Sunshine 16 September, 2015 at 7:14 pm

      I don’t think you came across as very authoritarian. More so as curious. At least to me. Which is what I think most of us are as parents. It’s a big job and so many angles are involved. This is why I also love diversity and good debates. There’s always something to walk away with, be it confirmation, or enlightenment. 😉

  • Samia_B 16 September, 2015 at 8:27 pm

    Thank you sunshine! You are very kind :). After further investigations (thank god for google) I think I am somewhere on the spectrum between authoritative and authoritarian. It seems that authoritative is this thing to aim fir, so I shall endeavour do be more this way in future….I have definitely learned something. Thank you. It has also dawned on me that my upbringing was quite authoritarian: a very strict catholic boarding school run by nuns, expected to behave perfectly, huge deference to authority and especially members of the church. Academic study and reading were how I escaped mentally. “Young ladies should be seen and not heard” was something we were told. I has probably rubbed off on me more than I realised! Right, I will stop clogging up your lovely website with longwinded ramblings nd leave you lovely people alone…take care x

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  • Janice 5 October, 2016 at 5:45 am

    I have worked with children for over 20 years and have been a mother for nearly 14, I agree with all of these and try to practise them all but I disagree that forcing a child to kiss and cuddle shouldn’t be on the list. Kissing and cuddling are intimate acts. Telling a child to kiss someone goodbye and that they have to cuddle someone if they are reluctant teaches them that its ok for a grown up to make you feel uncomfortable and make decisions for you. Exactly the opposite of what we try and teach them to keep them safe. Teaching them to shake hands or give a high five is much more appropriate and lets them have their own personal space. If they are happy to kiss and cuddle people hello and goodbye then it’s important to teach them with whom it is and isn’t appropriate.

    • Lucy 6 October, 2016 at 10:51 am

      Sorry, I don’t understand what you are saying? I am arguing that we should never force a child to hug or kiss. It is a violition of their rights and body autonomy. I feel like you have read it as if I am arguing the opposite??! So confused!

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  • Ramona Voight 26 May, 2017 at 1:24 pm

    Enjoy your children’s lives, catering to their every whim in the guise of “children’s rights” because when they are teenagers they will have never been told ‘no’, have no self control and will run roughshod over you. At that point your feel-good nonsense will be too late to help.

  • Becky 6 June, 2017 at 11:14 pm

    Hi, my daughter’s school, in Wales, UK, is a ‘Rights Respecting School’ and has implemented the UN Rights of the Child into their teaching practices. The children are taught their rights from nursery age, and copies of the invidiual Rights (e.g your Right to play, Right to practice your religion, Right to be listened to) are displayed around the school. Instead of Rules, the children are taught to respect the Rights of others. So, for instance, at dinner times they respect the Right to eat healthily. They also have a conflict resolution practice where, if a child argues with or hurts another, those involved will be called together with a trained teacher or counsellor where they will each discuss what happened, how it made them feel, and what they should do to make things right. It is highly effective, with bullying virtually eliminated. I think the whole system encourages children to act more responsibility and considerately, and wish it had been in place when I was a child!

    • Lucy 7 June, 2017 at 9:18 am

      Hey BEcky, oh wow, thank you for sharing! I am SO encouraged to hear this 😀

  • Sarah 7 June, 2017 at 3:30 pm

    I agree with some of these and implement them. I don’t with others and don’t, except not talking about the kids in front of them. I’m bad at that and need to work on it. I mainly do it to her grandparents as I know they want to know all about my kid.
    As for Time Outs, we use them. My toddler is introverted and when she gets in a mood and starts acting up it’s because she needs that alone time to recharge, not because she needs more connection. If I try to connect with her, to offer to read a story with her or cuddle, she’ll throw a tantrum and scream “No!” and cry hard or even try to hit her head on the floor. If I put her in time out on the step for two minutes she’ll totally calm down and come out when the timer beeps happy and content and ready to play again. She rarely has tantrums but when she does, it’s always because I’ve tried a method other than Time Out when she’s starting to get a bit grumpy or misbehaving, so time out it is.

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  • Kye 8 November, 2017 at 5:08 am

    I just found this article and it’s absolutely beautiful to see that so many people agree on this issue and are working together to fix it. Even if some opinions are different than others. Regarding the article up above, it seems people are very conflicted on this topic. You can agree or not. Or be somewhere in the middle maybe? But before anything else I believe some serious refection is needed here on how people are violating one of the most BASIC HUMAN RIGHTS: the right to be heard. Disagreeing on something (or entirely) and being able to debate, while respecting the right that someone chooses to do/see things a little differently AND CAN. Someone might not agree with every key point or issue as the next person. BUT YOU CAN. We’ll never be able to get every person in the world (men, women, non gender conforming, children, elderly or anyone AT ALL = a human born with rights) to respect what our own definition of a basic human right is. Even the legal definition. Tolerance and trying to understand someone’s point of view (even if you disagree) without judgement or forcing your own opinion is the first step to respect. We need to look at this thread like a lesson and learn from it. If we can’t even discuss this controversial topic about respecting a child as someone with basic human rights, while disrespecting the rights of eachother we’re never going to achieve equality in the SIMPLEST way for our children in the world. You have a voice and the right to speak your mind whatever it may be. That being said, just because we all have the RIGHT of freedom of speech and thought doesn’t mean we SHOULD devalue someone else’s. That’s where we see respect become key. We will never fix our problems in this broken world if we can’t take our own advice while discussing the solution. Reflect, Acknowledge, Repair, Pass On.

  • Jasha 26 July, 2018 at 8:18 pm

    This is a wonderful article! I love the the clarity of your thoughts around how we position our selves as parents.

    Childism has always bothered me, and as a youth worker I learned in detail how our society systematically oppresses young people and children, with a powerful paradigm of “its for their own good” (as is reflected in parts of the comments: Lucy, you,have exercised remarkable diplomacy in fielding some of these! 🙂

    I love Emma Piklers work and I think it offers a lot of practical guidance on how to put these principles into practice, espccially as sometimes we are “fish breathing water” and don’t know what we don’t know. I dicovered Magda Gerbers work following from Pikler when my first baby was 5 months old, and I was amazes at her capacity for decisions and commicstion when still tiny. And how lovely life can be when we genuinely engage with and respect our children.

    I think part of our conflict in parenting discussions emerges from the fact we are all doing a very different thing (as every child is so individual) but we speak as though we are all doing the same thing! Each child and parent pair is different; even within the same family.
    My daughter loved to play with my sewing pins as a 14 month old, making arrangements on my pin cushion, and would find the occasional pin I dropped on the floor and return them gently to their place. Other parent were horrified by this (as their child may well have put them straight in their mouth) but my daughter never did (and she is careful and cautious to this day). We were parenting different children, and therefore did different tings, with different outcomes.
    Love your work, Thankyou 🙂